Humble walnut may keep health issues at bay
Regularly snacking on walnuts cuts artery-clogging cholesterol, a study has found.
At a conference in San Diego, California, researchers from the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and Loma Linda University presented the results of their study into the effects of walnut consumption.
In a clinical trial, the researchers asked more than 700 healthy adults to add either a handful of walnuts to their daily diets or to follow their normal diet without eating nuts.
After one year both groups had similar results for weight gain, triglycerides and HDL (or good) cholesterol, but those eating walnuts experienced significant LDL (or bad) cholesterol reductions compared to the nut-free control group.
The research shows the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of eating walnuts works equally well in the elderly, even in the long term, the authors reported.
"Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long-term consumption might be associated with weight gain," said study author Dr. Emilio Ros. "It's encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population."
Researchers hope to also confirm the positive effects of walnuts on other age-related health concerns such as macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
Other walnut studies presented at the conference, funded in part by the California Walnut Commission, suggested the omega-3 fatty acid-rich nut may also benefit gut health and help to reduce inflammation.
Walnuts are high in healthy fat, low in carbohydrates and a good source of protein, fibre and potassium. But it's still important to remember portion control, especially for people on weight loss programmes, and a suggested serving of walnuts is about 14 halves, which adds up to 180 calories.